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IT is of great practical importance, that the
cause of that pleasure uniformly exhibited by the young, while engaged with the exercises of the LESSON SYSTEM OF TEACHING, should be well understood, and traced to its source. These pleasurable feelings arise from two causes ; lst, From the pupil's attention being called to one truth at a time, to which others are added only as he is able to receive them ; and 2d, From the various exercises founded
upon the truths thus gradually but effec| tively communicated, being all consecutive,
each preparing the way for what is to follow, so that nothing is required of the child, but what he is able, with a little attention, and in the exercise of his own powers, readily to accomplish. It is these two principles united, which create that feeling of delight,—that electrical charm,—which we find uniformly accompanying the judicious use of these simple, but important exercises.
The machinery too, which is employed to produce these effects, is exceedingly simple.Its peculiarity, as well as its success, arises from the simplicity and fewness of its original materials, compared with the various uses to which they are applied, and the numerous beneficial results which they are ultimately made to produce. The nature of this principle in education, which, it is believed, is original and peculiar to this System, will be best understood, and its value appreciated, by exhibiting these exercises in succession, as applied to a single passage or section of Scripture. This will, at the same time, prepare the Reader for understanding the nature and uses of the various exercises in the following Key.
There is, first of all, the Verbal Catechetical Exercise ; which, by breaking down and dissecting the whole section or passage into minute parts, presents each in succession to the mind of the child, gradually unfolds all its convolutions, and extracts every idea, even the most remote and involved, which it contains. The General Catechetical Exercise, which is the next in order, takes then a more general and commanding view of the passage, enables the pupil to combine the ideas which he has previously extracted, and to perceive their connection with, and dependance upon, each other as a whole. By these means, the mind gradually attains a correct and luminous view of the whole subject; while the Connecting Catechetical Exercise joins, and keeps entire, those links of communication, which bind this to all the previous or succeeding sections.
The Reader is aware, that at this point other systems of education generally stop. When the meaning of the words and scope
passage has been acquired, the end sought is considered as gained, and they immediately pass on to another and a new subject. It is here, accordingly, that the Lesson System begins more particularly to diverge from all others. Its main object is, to communicate knowledge for the purpose of shewing its use, and of training to its practice. It adopts its own method, no doubt, in making children understand what is read or taught, but it does not stop there. On the contrary, making this but the foundation --the starting point of its ulterior operations, it endeavours, not only to secure all the advantages already gained, but proceeds to the attainment of objects still more interesting and influential, and incalculably more permanent and valuable, than the mere knowledge of the original subject by itself ever could have been.
Not to speak of the Numerical Exercise, or the Analysing of the passage for extracting the doctrines,—the Explanations, which are the next in order, besides their use in teaching to spell, serve several other valuable and important purposes. By making children acquainted with the various synonims in the English language, with their opposites and contrasts, they gradually impart ease and fluency of expression in conversation, and prepare for future exercises in the very important, but much neglected art of English Composition.*
Again, the knowledge of the original subject is rendered still more familiar, and is more indelibly imprinted on the memory, by the deducing of Practical Lessons from the verse or section,-obviously the most important of all the exercises. This is the first excursion of the
* On this important branch of a Child's Education, see “ Key to the First Step in Teaching on the Lesson System," p. 16, and 330.
pupil's mind beyond the words and meaning of what he is called upon to investigate. Carrying his subject along with him into the regions of his own observation, he collects other and similar materials for the purpose of comparison, imitation, or warning; and embodies these in the form of a Practical Lesson, deducible from, and still intimately connected with, the primitive truth which he has been considering.
The Application of the Lessons to the ordinary affairs of life, which is the next in order, is exceedingly fascinating when judiciously conducted. It presents the original subject in such a familiar and practical point of view, as throws a charm, not only over it, but also over all the exercises which have been engrafted upon it. It forces conviction upon the conscience;marms the injunctions of Scripture with an energy and power which is at once felt and acknowledged; —and, above all, it produces in the mind of the pupil a strong impression of the reality and practical nature of vital religion.
The summing up of the whole, is the applying of the original subject to the duty of Prayer. This very important branch of the Lesson System divides itself into two distinct parts-each of which accomplishes a very desirable object in the education of the young. By the first, the words in the original verse or section are, by a slight change in the expression, adapted to, and turned directly into those parts of prayer to which they are best fitted, such as adoration, confession, thanksgiving, &c. by which, as we find exemplified in our most